Title: Bias Activity
Author: Mike Mestelle
Overview / Description:
Bias is defined as a particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned. All people have bias in favor of some things and against some things. That is alright as long as it doesn’t lead to prejudice or discrimination against people that have different beliefs. Bias against Native American people in the United States has been a very harmful aspect of our history and has had a negative impact upon Native Americans. This lesson focuses on the concept of bias and helps students to analyze materials to look for examples of bias in today’s world.
Subject(s): Native American History, Wisconsin ACT 31
Grade Level(s): 9th grade - 12th grade
After completing this activity, students should be able to:
Understand the concept of bias and how it often has led to negative treatment for people that are different in America
Analyze a variety of materials critically to look for bias
Discuss and understand various opinions both in their writing and speaking
Type of Activity:
X Whole Class
X Use of Technology
Length of Time:
2-3 class periods
Variety of Youtube videos from popular media
Begin with an understanding of the concept of Bias, its definition, and how we have bias in our daily lives (such as our favorite food, favorite sports team, or favorite type of music.) Discuss examples of how people treat others who have different viewpoints as they do (many times these are harmful things such as name calling, physical beatings, or even death.)
Present items to the class and have them look for bias in the materials. Examples include:
The music video for the Tim McGraw song “Indian Outlaw.”
The performance of the band Outkast of the song “Hey Ya!” on the Grammy Awards in 2004.
Disney songs from movies, such as “What Made the Red Man Red” from Peter Pan and “Savages” from the movie Pocahontas.
3. After viewing each of the media clips, students will write a journal entry to determine if they feel that there was any bias present against Native American culture. Answers here will vary. Some students may feel offended, others won’t be.
4. Discuss student’s viewpoints of the materials presented and offer examples of what might be considered by some people to be biased against Native American people.
An extension of this lesson could be to ask students to look for examples of bias themselves and bring those examples to class for discussion. Identifying bias and reacting to it in an appropriate way is a valuable skill to learn in today’s world with the emphasis and prevalence of social media in our lives.